?Danzantes Unidos? festival this weekend

Daniel Barnes

The Danzantes Unidos Festival, a Mexican folk dancing seminar and exhibition, will be held on the Sacramento State campus this weekend for the first time in the festival?s 22-year history.

Over 1000 Mexican folk dancers will participate in the festival, which includes dance classes, lectures, performances and exhibitions. There will also be a makeshift mercado of vendors selling food, artifacts and dance costumes.

James Barrera, the publicity director for the festival, cited the campus? facilities as a reason Sacramento State was chose to hose this year?s event. “Because of the way it?s laid, out, you can have classrooms with 50 different instructors from 50 different regions,” Barrera said. “Of course, a state university should be involved in something like this that will benefit the community. It?s only right.” The Danzantes Unidos Festival is an attempt to unite Mexicans of different economic and immigrant status through a common love of their shared culture, a goal reflected in this year?s theme, “Unity Through Folklorico.” Participation in the festival is open to all dancers willing to pay the registration fee, regardless of age or ability. “Somebody who has little or no experience with dance can walk into a class where they?ll feel comfortable,” said Barrera. The festival gets underway Friday at 7 p.m. with a Mexican dance concert in the Grand Ballroom Theater with dance groups from throughout the state. El Ballet Folklorico Rarajipame, an award-winning dance group from Chihuahua, Mexico, headlines the festival. Their Gala Concert at the Sacramento High School Theater Sunday at 3 p.m., closes out the weekend?s festivities.

The festival is traditionally held over Palm Sunday weekend, and a “mariachi Mass” will be conducted Sunday at 8:15 a.m. “Many people of Mexican culture are Catholic, so there are very close ties to the church,” said Barrera. “It?s also a good annual weekend to remember for people who want to do the Danzantes every year.”

In addition, a collection of dolls modeling regional dance costumes and books on Mexican culture will be on display on the second floor of the Sac State Library until the end of March. The collection was loaned by Hortensia Colmenarez, a Sac State alum. “It?s just a small representation of the regions and the states and dresses of Mexico,” said Kathy Blackmer Reyes, the Ethnic Studies and Multicultural Librarian.

The Danzantes Unidos Festival was first held in Los Angeles in 1979, and Sacramento is the eighth California city to host the popular folk dancing seminar.

There will be limited spaces available for registration on the day of the events, although classes from some regions are more popular and fill up quickly. For more information about registration and scheduled events or to purchase tickets to any of the dance concerts, call (916) 484-2888.